The End of an Era

For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing,
Because our days upon earth are a shadow. Job 8:19


The gradual decline of Dehue caught many of us unaware, especially those of us who had moved away. Dehue began to fade away by the early 1970’s, and now the end of the era we once knew is forever gone. The powerful song below tells about the coming of mechanization to the Appalachian coal industry and its effects. The song reminds me of how much my father loved his life as a coal miner, and the inside of the mine was indeed his second home. Dolores Riggs Davis

Last Hand Loader

We been watchin’ those trains come in the hollow.
They been bringin’ in all those big machines
That was specially built to fit our seam.
Yeah, they’re bringin’ in machines to dig it faster than me.
So, I’m going down in the mine one more time.

My doctor he says it’s about time.
These old lungs they don’t belong in a mine.
But him and my boss says it’s all right just one more time
I’m going down in the mine, load that car one more time.

I don’t know what I’m gonna do when it’s all gone.
I don’t know how I’ll ever make it on my own.
This old mine it has become my second home,
And I’m going down in the mine one more time.

Written by: West Virginia’s own Carl Rutherford
Recorded by: Blue Highway on their CD Wind to the West

The house stood empty ready to be razed when it was marred by striking miners in early 1990.


In the 1930’s dad’s brother, Virgil Riggs lived in the second house from the substation. My cousin, John Virgil Riggs (who is still Junior to me) sent me this picture. He said he used to play ball where the weeds have taken over. When I was in grade school the high school bus used the wide space to turn the bus around.






Dehue had its beginning about 1916 when Rum Creek Collieries and By-Products sank a shaft and built surface buildings in the hollow along Rum Creek. In 1920, the coal lease and mining plant were purchased by The Steel and Tube Company of America who were headquartered in Chicago. In 1923, the mine became a part of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube.

Soon Dehue began to grow by leaps and bounds. Rachel Lucas Adkins’ husband, Cumberland “Cum” passed away on March 9, 1919. So in 1928, Rachel moved to Dehue with seven of her children. All of her sons, Everett “Skeet,” Millard “Crutch,” and Caudle worked at the Dehue Mine. Her daughter’s, Faye Adkins Simmons Roberts and Marie Adkins Hurt both worked at the Dehue Company Store. Verda Adkins Gostovich lived at Dehue until shortly before her death. Maude Adkins Kitchen was thirteen when they moved to Dehue, and moved since all the house at Dehue been torn down.


Walter Martin was the son of Henry and Lucy Martin. His parents came to Dehue from North Carolina. Henry worked for the Dehue Mine. Walter went to work for Dehue at age seventeen.

Leon introduced his brother, Walter to Lillian Higdon. Lillian was the daughter of Curtis and Emma Higdon, and they moved to Logan from Frankfort, Kentucky.

Walter and Lillian were married in 1938, and moved to Dehue. They had six sons: Walter, Jr., Terry, Melvin, Harrell, and ( adopted son) Terrell. Harrell died in an automobile accident on December 23, 1991 on his way back from delivering Christmas gifts to family members. Walter was retired when he died August 31, 1986.

When Lillian’s sons were older, she went back to school. She attended Marshall University and West Virginia Tech. She said it was hard and took a long time, but she got her teachers certificate. She believed anything was possible if she had faith in God. She attends church at Logan Our Lady of Carmel. She retired from Omar Douglas Jr. High School in the fall of 1986.

Lillian said. “Dehue was a family of love for everyone regardless of race or religion,” and she loved living there. She lives in West Logan near her son, Gerald. She has fourteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

photo courtesy: David M. Browning – grandson of Virgil Curry

photo courtesy: David M. Browning – grandson of Virgil Curry

West Virginia native, Virgil Curry first come to Dehue in 1925. He became superintendent of the Dehue Mine on April 1, 1941, and held that position for many years.

Kathleen (Lewis) Curry & Virgil Curry
photo courtesy: David M. Browning – grandson of Virgil Curry

front row: Willie, George Sr., Fred, Mary, Mary Ellen
back row: Dorthy, Earl, George Jr., Helen – December 1945

George Jr. died – September 1967
Fred – November 2000
Willie – August 2004

George Washington Hatton, Sr. and his wife Mary Lena Runyon Hatton were both from Kentucky. They were married in 1918 when George was twenty-one and Mary was fourteen. They were blessed with nine children, & raised grandson, Greg Hatton. They rented house number 57 at Dehue in December 1927. It was a double-house (duplex to most folks), and my parents, Gladys (Brickey) and Emmett Riggs rented number 58 in 1935. It was called “Kentucky Row” because so many of the families in that row of houses were from Kentucky. My mother said Mary Hatton was like a mother to her, and taught her how to live in the coalfields.

In 1938 the Hatton family moved to house number 106 which was a single dwelling where George and Mary lived the rest of their lives. George worked at the Dehue Mine for thirty-eight years. He had only been employed by the company for a year when he was in a mining accident that eventually led to one of his legs being amputated below the knee. George was instrumental in organizing the Dehue Sportsman Club, and was president for several years. The club held Turkey shoots and stocked the fish pond for members only.

The Logan Banner was delivered in Dehue for many years by a member of the Hatton family. It passed from Willie, to Mary Ellen, then Fred, and finally to Greg. In fact in 1948 when Mary Ellen took over, she was the only girl in Logan County with a paper route.

DEHUE REUNION – August 12, 1995

Every blade in the field
Every leaf in the forest
Lays down its life in
Its season as beautifully
As it was taken up.

Henry David Thoreau

Frederick Thomas “Fred” Hatton, age 59, died November 11, 2000 a few days after under going open-heart surgery. He will be sadly missed by his family and friends. Dr. Fred Brammer brought him into this world at Dehue, house number 106 on August 30, 1941. His childhood friends were Donald Davis, Darrell Moore, and David Gostovich. Fred’s wife, Roberta said she was glad he was able to attend the Dehue Reunion this past August.

Fred & Roberta Hatton
Dehue Reunion – August 12, 2000


Mike Gostovich-counselor ties a bandage on Roy Smallwood. Watching are William Carrere-assistant Scoutmaster, Claude Goode-unit chairman on left. Robert Saltsman-committeeman and Basil Frye-assistant Scoutmasters on right.

Girl Scouts sitting: Dorothy Taylor-intermediate leader, Erie Mae Lee-senior leader, Micha Curry-Brownie assistant. standing: Katherine Steele-assistant intermediate leader,Martha Jolly-committee chairman, Sherla Peyton-senior leader

left to right: Luther Rutherford-assistant Cub master, Robert Lee-committeeman, Mike Gostovich demonstates how to tie a knot, George Hester-counselor & Cub committeeman, Howard Lewis-Cub master

The Scouting pictures above were taken for “The Bulletin” magazine which was published with the cooperation of the employees of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company. There were 17 pictures in the May 1956 issue which told of Dehue’s Civic pride. It was titled “Black Diamonds From Dehue.”

front row: Lewis Lepetrone, Bob Hamill, Nick Michero, Manager – Virgil Curry, Richard Thomas, Wendell Clark, Ellis Sexton. back row: batboy – Curtis Thomas, Milt Davis, John Foutch, Ernest Mangus, Eskel Kitchen, Eligah Chambers,— Belcher, John Seals
photo courtesy: David M. Browning – grandson of Virgil Curry

Featured in the Dehue History Book

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9 Responses to The End of an Era

  1. Lynn Davie Norman says:

    Hi all, Was Fred Hatton in the USAF at westover afb in the earley 60’s?I just want to know If this was my good friend in the Air force. we worked in the paint shop painting B-52 planes. Thank you very much. Lynn

  2. tina nunley says:

    Hi we used to live in dehue until 1969 or 1970 I was young. But I wanted to know if anyone knew of my family my was a coalminer Donald Nunley my mom Louise Haywood Nunley kids r Donald Eugene Nunley, Bert, Carl, Debbie & me tina. I remember living up a holler and we live by a creek with a small church and there was a cemetery up behind our house. I would love to here if any one does. Thank you

  3. Nancy L.Chafin Nieves says:


  4. Maudella Berry Smith says:

    Raised at Macbeth. We thought we were poor but we were rich in so many ways

  5. Allen Law says:

    The last I heard of Dehue was about 1972. We left the state after that. I only knew three people up at Dehue: Tony and Henrietta Ramirez, and a older man named Mr. Forbes their neighbor (I believe that was his name; it’s been a long time). Tony worked the mines, and his wife’s name was Henrietta who was blind. Lord…that woman could talk your ears off and then some! My Aunt rescued Henrietta at a trailer Park at Mt. Gay where the Kroger now stands. My mom and Henrietta became good friends and they would come over to our house quite a bit. When Henrietta was mad she called Tony…(Antonio). One other thing about Dehue; I liked to explore the hills around there when I was a kid. Sorry to hear Dehue is now gone! Thanks for the pictures!

  6. Gina Atwell Smith says:

    hi Sherrie,
    I was your neighbor in Verdunville. My name was Gina Atwell. I moved away to Ohio when I was 13. We use to play together. How is your sister Terrie? Please tell her hello for me.

  7. Dolores Davis says:

    I was born at Dehue and we lived their three different times, so there are gaps in my memory. The kids on Rum Creek that went to Dehue School I remember many of them. I went to school from 4th to the 8th grade. Dolores

  8. Sherrie Burgess Hager says:

    My dad Albert Shot Burgess was from Rum Creek he and my mom Betty live there years ago